Why energy strategy is like a cup of tea

Industrial & Commercial Operations Network director, Georgina Penfold.

Developing a successful energy strategy is a little like making a cup of tea: if you want a result that works for you, it’s probably best to do it yourself.

After all, you know how long an innovation needs to brew before it’s has the right look and taste for your organisation’s culture; you know whether you need a dash of contribution from financiers or other external partners and how generous that dash should be; you know whether any sweeteners are required.

If you do outsource energy management – partly or fully, your consultant must understand your organisation to give the best results. By that, I mean more than the consumption data and lighting design: they must take time to know the constraints and use the organisation’s strengths to overcome the challenges.

Knowing what makes individual organisations tick is so integral to success when it comes to energy efficiency that it’s not surprising we still struggle to drive efficiency campaigns at a national level, so I was intrigued when, over the summer, BEIS released Calls for Evidence asking for information on energy reporting and energy services.

The Call for Evidence on Helping businesses improve the way they use energy and the Call for Evidence on Energy Performance Certificates in Buildings are both open now, inviting stakeholders to volunteer ideas on how to stimulate energy efficiency in non-domestic premises, respectively through practical means and via reporting.

Here at icon, we have some ideas.

As an educator, I’m a big believer in the power of making a concept accessible. How about training accountants to understand energy monitoring and verification and prepare better financial cases? Or regional support enabling all businesses to access low cost expertise to deliver projects?

Operational ratings for the commercial sector, as posited by the Call for Evidence on EPCs, could be a useful tool for tracking year on year performance but there is no point in increased bureaucracy through reporting and certification if there is no driver for action.

Further incentives or tax breaks for investing in energy efficiency could, when released in tandem with the training for financial teams, prove a useful steer. This might be achievable by expanding the Energy Technology List; and don’t forget to make an easy-to-access equivalent reward scheme for the public sector, although with phasing out the Revenue Support Grant, it is difficult to see how this could be managed effectively on a national scale. We would like the incentives to be well publicised and, whilst effective monitoring and verification is vital, the application process should be easily understood.

And therein lies the problem.

Support for energy efficiency is not difficult to find. Investors are keen and business owners want to reduce overheads. The key phrases above are “easy-to-access” and “easily understood”.

Going back to my cup of energy efficient tea, I’d also add “relevant to the organisation”. The compelling driver may not be cheaper heating but improved staff comfort, greater productivity or increased asset value.

The best results always come by understanding the context in which we operate. Linking energy efficiency to productivity is a good starting point but different sectors need different approaches and owners and occupiers of all no-domestic premises should welcome this opportunity to help inform policy making.

The Clean Growth Strategy identifies energy efficiency potential of 40,000GWh from non-domestic buildings and notes that this could be achieved from projects with an average payback of less than 7 years – through improved insulation, ventilation and lighting.

Now that sounds like something worth looking at! Let’s pop the kettle on, serve up a slice of motivation, and think about how we can improve energy efficiency in your sector.

The deadline for the EPC Call for Evidence is 19th October 2018 and responses on Energy Efficiency due by 26th September; icon will respond to both so do get in touch if you want to share ideas.

Who are the Industrial & Commercial Operations Network?

The Industrial & Commercial Operations Network is designed to help I&C energy and estates managers operate more efficiently.

We protect large energy consumers from unpleasant surprises by keeping them updated with information on policy and regulatory changes including non-commodity cost forecasts. We help improve operational efficiency through our knowledge hub and we help avoid the risk of breaching environmental legislation with easy-to-use compliance tools including legal registers for ISO 14001 and 50001. These tools and more are available on the icon hub (www.theicon.org.uk).

We engage effectively with government, regulators and other agencies to represent non-domestic consumers and are available to our subscribers by phone or email at any time to answer questions and carry out research.

Follow us on Linkedin or register on theicon.org.uk to find out more.

Our events:

11th September workshop at Drayton Manor on upcoming changes to energy

17th September @3pm – webinar with BEIS on Energy Intensive Industries – levy exemptions, energy policy and Brexit

21st September @3pm – webinar with BEIS on Energy Costs and Competition in the I&C energy market

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